New US Copyright Legislation: Congress and the Silver Screen

April 2005

Film & Television

The Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005 was passed swiftly with unanimous consent by the US Senate on February 1, 2005 following introduction of the bill on January 25, 2005. The statute is comprised of four parts:

The Artists’ Rights and Theft Prevention Act (or the ART Act) will criminalize the use of camcorders to record movies in theatres and the posting of unreleased films and music on the Internet. Anyone using a camcorder in a movie theatre could face a penalty of up to three years in prison. In order to ease the burden of proof, the Copyright Office will allow works to be registered three months before their release. The Family Movie Act will allow consumers to view only certain portions of movies when watching them at home. It legalizes ‘jump and skip’ technologies such as those used by ClearPlay, which allow consumers to bypass material considered objectionable. This helps to clarify copyright protection in light of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), under which this manipulation of a copyrighted work could be considered infringement.

The National Film Preservation Act will allow the Library of Congress to continue its motion picture preservation program and will assist libraries, museums, and archives in preserving films, and in making those works available to researchers and the public. Finally, The Preservation of Orphan Works Act will allow libraries to create copies of orphan works, copyrighted materials that are in the last 20 years of their copyright term, are no longer commercially exploited, and are not available at an affordable price. The bill was referred to a House of Representatives Subcommittee for review and no serious opposition to the legislation is likely because more controversial provisions were removed from an earlier version of the bill that failed to pass last year.
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Based on a summary by: Clare McCurley of Deeth Williams Wall LLP. See:

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